Screening for COVID-19 with a sticker on your skin

An engineer from the University of Missouri received a grant from the National Science Foundation to plan the large-scale manufacture of a biological electronic device that can be worn on skin.

One day, a wearable bio-electronic device could wirelessly transmit a person’s vital signs – potentially providing important information for early detection of health issues such as COVID-19 or heart disease – to a healthcare provider, eliminating the need for a personal visit while also a rescue Spirits.

Interest in wearable bioelectronics has increased in recent years, driven largely by the growing demand for fitness trackers that can record workouts and monitor a person’s health – from heart rate to sleep quality. Now, University of Missouri engineers are developing the commercial market for wearable bioelectronics by developing a large-scale manufacturing plan for a customizable device capable of simultaneously tracking multiple vital signs such as blood pressure, cardiac activity, and skin hydration.

“Although the biosensors for these devices have already been developed, we now want to combine them to produce a porous patch with multiple bioelectronic components,” said Zheng Yan, assistant professor in the College of Engineering. “Ingredients can also be customized to suit individual user health needs.”

Yan recently received a grant of more than $ 500,000 from the National Science Foundation’s Early Career Career Development Program for faculty members, or CAREER, to initiate a plan for mass production of the low-cost device.

The grant builds on some of Yan’s prior work that shows proof of a small patch concept that functions as a porous, waterproof electronic device on the skin with passive cooling capabilities. Now, he is working on ramping up this concept device for widespread distribution.

Yan said current wearable devices typically consist of bionics supported by a solid, flexible material – usually plastic or silicone – called a substrate. He wants to improve the material to be soft, breathable, comfortable, lightweight and waterproof. Also, in order to mass-produce bioelectronic sensors, Yan is researching how to print them directly onto the backing material using a method called mask-free inkjet printing.

“In the future, if we are to be able to implement the use of biomedical wearable devices on a large scale, given the scale of production, it should have a lower manufacturing cost,” Yan said. “Therefore, using this grant, we want to define how to achieve continuous and scalable manufacturing of these devices in an effort to keep our production costs as low as possible and pass these cost savings onto the consumer.”

The grant, “Solution-based, Continuous Manufacturing or Easy to Use on Skin Electronics for Personalized Health Monitoring,” was awarded by the National Science Foundation (2045101).


Editor’s Note: Yan has joint assignments in the Department of Biomedical, Biological, and Chemical Engineering and Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

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